Saturday's Pre-Olympic track and field meet at UC Irvine produced little in the way of earth-shattering performances. There were no American records or world bests, but that had little to do with the satisfaction index of the participating athletes and coaches.
"This is just what our athletes needed," said Stan Huntsman, U.S. Olympic coach. "Getting into some low-key races, having an opportunity to compete at a (less intense) level . . . it was really good for us."
Low-key was definitely the way to describe Saturday's meet. Though there were several notable performances--shotputter Jim Doehring and javelin thrower Linda Sutfin both set stadium records--the most noticeable events were the six that had to be canceled because no one showed to compete. Five events fielded fewer than three competitors.
Epitomizing the character of the meet was women's long jumper Shonel Ferguson of The Bahamas. Although she was the only competitor in her event, she did not win. She fouled on all six attempts.
For some, it was a good day nevertheless.
Doehring, 27, put the shot 69-feet 3/4-inches to break the stadium record of 67-10 set by Al Feuerbach in 1976. Doehring, a graduate of San Clemente High School who will compete for the United States at Seoul, had only one other legal throw (67-8) in his six attempts. Chris Rusher (58-11) of Athletes in Action finished second.
Sutfin, a two-time Olympian from Tucson, won the javelin with a throw of 194-3, breaking the stadium record of 187-1 set in 1977 by Karin Smith. Smith, a four-time Olympian, was second at 185-10. Nikki Nye was third at 176-5. Sutfin and Smith are members of this year's Olympic team.
Longtime distance standouts Steve Scott, Doug Padilla and Henry Marsh, all of whom will compete in Seoul, combined for the meet's deepest event, the men's 3,000-meters, which was five athletes strong.
Scott, the American record holder in the mile, ran the majority of the race behind Great Britain's Richard Merurkar, with Padilla and Marsh a step back. With 400 meters to go, Scott took the lead, Padilla remained a few strides back, and Marsh dropped out. Scott had little trouble holding off Padilla and won in 7 minutes 55.49 seconds. Padilla was second at 7:58.88 and Merurkar third at 8:00.71.
"Basically, this is just what I needed, to run a hard, steady-state run today," said Scott, a former Irvine All-American and three-time Olympian. "Sometimes it's very difficult to compete when there's not many (competitors) here or when there's not a packed crowd. But this was OK for me."
Marsh said: "This was more just a cooperative effort today. It's a real low-key meet, a good way to come out of the training phase and get into the racing phase before Seoul."
Other top performers included: Anthony Curran, who leaped 17-8 1/2 in the pole vault to defeat Olympian and American indoor record holder Billy Olson (17-4 1/2), and Ben Plucknett threw 203-11 in the discus to beat four-time Olympian Mac Wilkins (202-11).